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NCHC Preview: Week 5

St. Cloud State hosts Miami in this week's NCHC game of the week, but that's not the only great series...

Photo Credit
Photo Credit
The Blade | Andy Morrison

There really isn't a question as to which game will be our game of the week this week. Miami ventures west to St. Cloud State in what should be the best series this weekend in the NCHC, and a front-runner in all of college hockey.

Feel free to follow SBN College Hockey, Chris Dilks, and myself, as we will both be in attendance on Friday night.

This weekend brings us three conference series, which should all be pretty interesting. The non-conference game is between Western Michigan and Northern Michigan, which the Broncos will be hosting. Minnesota Duluth will have the weekend off before hitting the road again with two difficult series starting with North Dakota, and following with Minnesota.

#7 Miami (5-2-1) at #3 St. Cloud State (5-0-1)

If you haven't heard that St. Cloud State swept North Dakota by now, you've got some catching up to do. The red-hot Huskies are firing on all cylinders, earning the team's best start since the 2003-04 season where they went 8-0-1. Miami, although not quite as popular this week, did sweep Canisius last week did reassure fans that they are, in fact, a very powerful hockey team.

It's going to be a phenomenal series. Both Ryan Faragher and Ryan McKay provide excellent protection between the pipes for both teams. Offensively, the Huskies have firepower in Nic Dowd (4-3-7), Jonny Brodzinski (1-5-6), and Kalle Kossila (3-2-5), but the Redhawks can counter with the nation's leading scorers in Austin Czarnik (5-9-14) and Riley Barber (8-6-14).

Miami owns the overall series record at 4-2-1, with three of those games coming down to overtime finishes, but St. Cloud has won the last two meetings. Puck drops at 7:37 CT on Friday and 7:07 CT on Saturday.

#11 North Dakota (2-3-1) at Nebraska Omaha (4-4-0)

This series has great potential, but is going to be rather interesting. I expect North Dakota to come out flying after being swept at home for the first time in years, but I also expect Nebraska Omaha to continue riding the momentum they earned by by sweeping Denver, right onto the ice Friday night.

Nebraska Omaha didn't have the greatest start, but have finally got the ball rolling, or though it seems. Special teams haven't agreed with the Mavericks yet, as their power play stands at 16.7% vs UND's 18.5% and penalty kill at 67.9% vs UND's 96.6%. North Dakota has been a hard team to gauge. Looking at past history, we've know North Dakota to be a second-half-of-the-season team, but they've definitely shown glimpses of excellent hockey.

Fun fact: North Dakota has 15 NHL draftees rostered, while Nebraska Omaha has 6. So 21 NHL prospects? This series could be an excellent one. Puck drops at 7:07 CT on Saturday and 5:07 CT on Sunday.

Denver (3-5-0) vs Colorado College (1-5-0)

The rivalry between the two Colorado college hockey teams started in 1950; Denver leading the overall margin 160-114-16. Although Colorado College has taken three of the last four games, including the very last game as a member of the WCHA, Denver will not be an easy task in this home-home series.

Both Denver and Colorado College were swept last weekend, so this series could provide a little more grit than usually as lost points need to be made up. Both teams have seen glimpses of solid goaltending and decent scoring, well Denver has anyway, but it's the lack of consistency which holds the two Colorado teams back.

Colorado College needs to find scoring. Freshman Alex Roos is the only player that has more than one goal on the year, which reflects on the 3.6% power play conversion. Although Denver's special teams are a little more balanced, they're averaging 1.67 goals per game in their last three outings, which have all been loses. The winner of this series is the team who can find the back of the net. Plain and simple.

Puck drops at 8:37 CT on Friday and 8:07 CT on Saturday.

Northern Michigan (3-5-0) at Western Michigan (3-2-1)

I like Western Michigan in this series. For a team that got off to a rough(er) start, the Broncos are riding high after sweeping Colorado College. Northern Michigan spent last weekend up in Alaska, where they split with Fairbanks in a 4-5 loss on Friday and a 2-1 win on Saturday.

Andy Murray's Broncos have had decent goaltending in Frank Slubowski and consistant scoring in last few games. Actually, as a fun fact, Slubowski has yet to lose against Northern Michigan (4-0-0) and Chase Balisy has scored three goals and recorded nine points in eight outings. The Broncos have the recent upper-hand, they just need to close the door.

Puck drops at 6:07 CT on Saturday and 4:07 CT on Sunday.

#20 Minnesota Duluth (4-3-1) at Bye

Minnesota Duluth has this weekend off after splitting with Ohio State in Columbus last weekend. A needed break, as junior winger Justin Crandall didn't make the trip last weekend, giving him just another week of rest. The Bulldogs will travel to North Dakota, followed by a series in Minneapolis against Minnesota before finally coming back home to host St. Cloud State on December 6th and 7th.

Puck doesn't drop this week for the Bulldogs.



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Matt Christians covers Minnesota Duluth and the NCHC for SB Nation and College Hockey News. You can also give him a follow here ->